Today is my kid's eighteenth birthday, and my thoughts are racing. What have I forgotten to teach her? What haven’t I said that I need to say?
It's like leaving for a year-long vacation and wondering if you left the coffee pot on.
(Sigh… Okay, for you younger readers, there was a time when coffee pots didn't have an automatic shut-off)
For the moment, the most important thing to say comes straight from the movies: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I saw this movie with my parents when they were still married.
No doubt you already know the theme – interracial marriage – and it was pretty darned controversial in 1967.
At one point, Mr. Prentice (played by Roy Glenn) and his son John (Sidney Poitier) argue. Mr. Prentice, who is a mail carrier, angrily talks about his sacrifices for his son, but John sets him straight:
MR. PRENTICE: … I worked my ass off to get the money to buy you all the chances you had! You know how far I carried that bag in (all those) years?JOHN PRENTICE: You tell me what rights I've got or haven't got, and what I owe to you for what you've done for me. Let me tell you something. I owe you nothing! If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you're supposed to do! Because you brought me into this world. And from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another. But you don't own me!
My mother wasn't one to talk over movies, but at that point I clearly heard her say, “Amen!”
I took it to heart, and I tried to raise my daughter accordingly (with some major fails, I'm afraid). Last week I remembered to pass the message on to her expressly. So I can mark that one off the list.
But I'm still pretty sure I left the coffee pot on. And the iron. And did anybody get the cat out of the closet? God, I think I left the door unlocked ... Jesus, I need to make a list.
Happy birthday, sweet pea. I am so very, very grateful to be your mom.